Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Death Sworn

Death Sworn by Leah Cypress
Death Sworn #1
Published March 4th 2014 by Greenwillow
 
When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.
But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.
*An ARC was provided by Greenwillow in exchange for an honest review*

Death Sworn was one of my most anticipated reads of 2014 so I was thrilled when I got a chance to read an advanced reading copy.  The cover and blurb both give off a dark and atmospheric vibe and as soon as I saw "assassins" and "magic", I was sold!  I was also really intrigued in the prospect of an main character having magic but losing her power, which isn't something I've come across much in my YA reads so I was exceedingly curious to see how everything would mesh together.  Unfortunately, this one didn't quite live up to my expectations...

Death Sworn starts up by offering an interesting premise: the MC Ileni is a sorceress (Eeep so awesome!) but there's a twist: she's losing her powers.  Soon all her magic will be gone forever and there's nothing she can do about it.  So when the Elders suggest that she go live with a band of assassins and take over as their magic tutor, she goes willingly, knowing there's not much else she can do.  These assassins live in an underground cave system buried deep within the mountains which consists of a labyrinth of tunnels and secret passages.  For whatever reason, I adore stories that have any kind of maze or hidden passageways so the setting here was a major plus!  There was a catch to this move for Ileni though: both of her previous successors who went to tutor the assassins died in these very same caves. Yeah.  Anyways so this story wasn't all just assassins, magic, and a badass setting; there was a mystery to unravel too!  Score.  Oh and I forgot to mention one final bit: the Assassins have no clue that Ileni is powerless, and in order to survive amongst them, they can not find out her secret. So add secrecy and suspense to the mix and this sounds like the perfect combination right?  So where did it all go wrong??

To be honest, I'm still not quite sure.  It's like all the elements were there but instead of blowing me away it all just sort of...fizzled.  As lethal as the assassins were made out to be, the overall tone just didn't make things come off as all that dangerous.  I mean, I knew there was danger all around but I never felt immersed in it, if that makes any sense.   The heroine Ileni was brave and likeable enough, but similarly I never got behind her 100%.  I couldn't connect to her for whatever reason and it left me feeling a bit apathetic I guess.  Her loss of magic was a fresh twist, but in the end losing one's powers read as frustratingly as it clearly felt for Ileni.  I think I was hoping for a really cool reveal as to why her powers were going and how she might gain them back but the end result was something of a letdown.  The romance aspect developed nice and slow, just the way I like it...but I found that something about it didn't ring true to me, like their pairing didn't really make sense.  I guess the heart of my issue with Death Sworn boils down to this: it didn't make me care as much as I would have liked.  Maybe showing us flashbacks of Ileni's past, before she came to the caves could have helped in terms of context and that might have also helped me in terms of relating with the MC.  We meet her at such a turning point in her life but it simply doesn't come across.  I think if there would have been more tangible ties to her past, it may have helped the story along.

That being said, I was willing to let most of my issues slide, if the ending of Death Sworn managed to surprise me and/or blow me away.  Well, the ending did surprise me... but it also sort of confused me and weirded me out a little. o_O  It felt odd and frankly underwhelming.  The author kept alluding to a larger plan but by the time the big reveal rolled in; it just didn't fit in the way I'd been hoping or expecting. I wonder if again, further insight into "The Master" and his "masterplan" could have cleared things up...maybe having a bit more narrative from his perspective but I'm not sure it would have taken care of all my concerns.  The bottom line is that Death Sworn simply failed to deliver for me.  I almost gave it a 3-star rating but when I compared it to my recent 3-star reviews, it didn't quite measure up. There was a lot of potential here but it didn't pan out. Hopefully, the sequel will resolve some of these concerns.  If there's good buzz I'd consider reading the sequel but at this point I'm not quite sure I'd go on with the series.

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

12 comments:

  1. I agree with you 100%. This one just fell flat in every aspect! Sometimes it's so hard to pinpoint where things went wrong when things just... don't work... you know? It's like throwing all the right ingredients for a cake into a bowl and then wondering why it didn't become a cake. (Maybe that's not the best analogy but whatever, lol.) Totally agree w/ you about the danger not coming across as Actually Dangerous, and the relationship didn't work for me either, even though I really wanted it to! The ending fell flat as well, probably because by that point, I didn't care either. *sigh* And so much potential! Assassins! Magic! Intrigue! :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well I'm glad I'm not the only one! I'd been seeing SO many positive reviews for this one...and I wanted to love it but I just didn't. Oh and your cake analogy is awesomely appropriate and I love it LOL. It really is though, like all the right elements were there but nothing flowed like it could have. You're right too: by the end I already cared a lot less but that big ''reveal'' just killed off whatever remaining feels there were. Ugh :( Thanks for stopping by!! ♥

      Delete
  2. This sounds like it had so many great elements going for it, especially the assassins bit. It's so tough when you can't find that connection with the MC, and you feel like you're just observing instead of being completely drawn into the story. I think I'd have the same quibbles with this as you did, so I'm leaving it off the TBR for now. Sorry it didn't quite work out for you, Micheline!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was exactly it: it felt like I was an observer of everything instead of being thrown smack dab in the middle of everything. To be honest though, I'm not sure just fixing that bit would have helped entirely...I feel like even if I had felt like a participant in it all I might have wanted to up and leave anyway >.< Just thinking about all the potential this had makes me sad now :(

      Delete
  3. I also had a hard time formulating what exactly went wrong with this one in my review. Like you say, this one had SO much going for it, all the elements that we usually LOVE. But there was something about this one that was lacking. Well, more like some thingS. Both the plot and the characters were blah to me and I'm not really surprised you felt the same way as we're usually on the same wavelength... still doesn't mean that it's not a major bummer though! This one was supposed to be THE BOMB, not you know... bomb in a bad way, heh. You know what I'm saying. Ah oh well, they can't all be winners. I hope your next read is more engaging, Micheline! And as always, great job with the review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it was especially hard to narrow down what the main issue was here...other than some thingS were missing. Feeling blah about the plot and characters is pretty much the best way to describe it LOL It's a total bummer but like you said: they can't all be winners.

      PS- THE BOMB vs bomb = awesome. I totally get you ;-D

      Delete
  4. Oh no, this was such a promising read! I was really looking forward to your review, hoping it would be just as good as I imagined. Maybe we both had too high expectations?
    I do hope the sequel delivers more, otherwise I may never pick up these books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SUCH a promising read!! I was really hoping it would be as good as I'd hoped too...I think you might be right that our expectations were simply too high with this one >.< I'm really hoping the sequel steps it up...but with the way this one ended, I'm just not sure...

      Delete
  5. I sadly don't even remember how this one ended (perfect testament to the "eh" feeling I have about it) And YES the romance! They just didn't mesh right together and I have no idea why. I'm usually a huge sucker for romance. Anyways, like you, I'll be waiting for reviews on the sequel before I decide to read any more books in this series.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha yup! I'm also guilty of having already forgotten a lot of the details for this one... but yeah the romance just did NOT work here. I didn't manage to care for their pairing one bit. Hopefully the next book improves (a lot!) Thanks so much for stopping by Alise!!

      Delete
  6. Fizzled! Yes, that is the right word to describe what happened with this book. It had all the elements (including a gorgeous cover) to be a wonderful book, but it never delivered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought so! I think having all the right elements just made it more of a letdown when it failed to deliver on any of those fronts :( I agree: the cover is truly gorgeous too - ugh what a bummer.

      Delete

I LOVE comments & do my best to return every one a.s.a.p. ♥
This blog is an award-free zone. I appreciate the thought but I can't invest the time needed.